Sunday, November 7, 2004

Look Who's Talking: Tara Krapes

President of Vesta Executive Housing see strong market ahead

Tara Krapes, president of Vesta Executive Housing, sees opportunity for her firm with a reported upswing in business travel.

Business travel in the United States increased 4 percent in 2004 with a 10 percent upswing predicted for 2005. That's good news for the industry and one local company. Tara Krapes, president of Blue Ash-based Vesta Executive Housing, sees opportunity for her small but growing company's portfolio of apartments in Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky and nationwide because constraints on executives' corporate travel budgets are making apartments more attractive as a temporary housing option. The company manages 120 apartments in the area and another 100 units in Lexington.

IF BUSINESS TRAVEL IS ON THE REBOUND, then temporary housing for executives also must be on the upswing.

Yes, that's true. Even though a lot of companies cut their travel budgets after 9/11, it's starting to come back. Hotel rates, however, have gone up drastically - 12 percent in Detroit and New York to 6 percent in Houston. Executive housing companies like ours have better rates than a hotel and the traveler is usually getting just as many amenities as at a hotel.

DOES IT HELP TO BE IN A CITY with a bunch of Fortune 500 companies?

Cincinnati has a lot of companies that are international. So a lot of people are coming into the area, especially for an extended stay. The Fortune 500 companies we have here are looking for a cost-savings alternative to hotels. Corporate apartments average 25 percent to 40 percent less than hotels.

WHEN AN EXECUTIVE COMES TO your company, what's the first amenity they ask about? Proximity to a golf course? A wet bar? Diaper-changing table?

It's location, location, location. They want proximity to their workplace. Another thing about executive apartments are the location choices you are offered. There are more chances that we'll have an executive apartment close to where you want to be. Also, we save on parking. We save on daily rates for high-speed Internet. We don't charge extra for that. They can save money by cooking meals in the apartment.

WHAT KIND OF RATES are we talking about?

A one-bedroom apartment is about $65 a day; two-bedroom, $75 a day; and three bedrooms are $85. And another benefit is if an associate has to travel for an extended period of time, they can get an apartment that will house their whole family. That's a better living environment for the executive and that means they're working better during the day.

John Eckberg

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